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Top 3D Printing Developments in 2013

January 5, 2014

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 16:26

Note: The following was co-authored by senior consultant Tim Caffrey and principal consultant Terry Wohlers, both of Wohlers Associates.

Countless announcements and developments occurred last year. We have selected the following as being among the most interesting and significant in the context of additive manufacturing’s history.

GE Aviation’s Fuel Nozzle: The company announced that it would produce a fuel nozzle by additive manufacturing for its new generation LEAP engine. The new design consolidates 18 parts into one, is 25% lighter, and is five times more durable. The company will begin to manufacture in or around 2016 and will ramp up to about 35,000 nozzles annually.

February State of the Union Address: To the surprise of many, President Obama said, “Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio,” referring to the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, also known as America Makes. He went on to say, “3D printing has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.”

Stocks on Steroids: Suggesting that 3D printing-related stocks did well last year is an understatement. Arcam was up ~430% at the end of the year. ExOne was up ~130% and 3D Systems improved by ~160%. Stratasys rose by ~68% and Voxeljet was up ~35%, even though its IPO was in October. Adding them together and dividing by five results in an average gain of ~165% for the year.

Stratasys Buys MakerBot: The acquisition had an initial value of $403 million based on Stratasys’ closing stock price of $84.60 on June 19, 2013. MakerBot could also receive earn-out payments valued at up to $201 million, also based on the June 19, 2013 closing price. That’s up to $604 million for a company whose 3D printers are based almost entirely on Stratasys’ FDM material extrusion technology. MakerBot produced $15.7 million in revenue in 2012.

Made in Space: A plastic extrusion-based 3D printer has been certified to operate on the International Space Station. It is scheduled to be sent up to the ISS this year, thanks to NASA and the people at Made In Space.

Arburg Freeformer: This new 3D printer was unveiled at the K 2013 trade fair in October in Düsseldorf, and showcased at last month’s EuroMold 2013 in Frankfurt. Arburg, a large German maker of injection-molding machines, has been developing the technology for several years. The Freeformer accepts standard thermoplastic pellets used in injection molding. The material cost is about 25–100 times less than the materials used with other AM equipment.